Olynyk, Canada Ousted From FIBA Americas Championship

            MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina - Gonzaga University junior Kelly Olynyk and the Canadian Senior Men's National Team were eliminated from the FIBA Americas Championship Thursday when Panama recorded a 91-89 victory.

            Canada finished the tournament with a 3-5 record, including 1-3 in Round 2.  The loss ends Canada's hopes of participating in the 2012 Olympics in London, as they will finish outside the top five teams in the tournament; therefore will not qualify for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July 2012.

            Following Thursday's loss, head coach Leo Rautins announced he is stepping down as head coach of the senior men's team.

            "I've thoroughly enjoyed working with the team, watching them grow and improve, but change is a good thing and it is time for a new voice in the locker room," said Rautins.

            Canada had kept its hopes alive Wednesday with a 70-68 win over Uruguay.

            Carl English (St. John's, NL) led Canada offensively with 24 points, including four three-pointers. Andy Rautins (Syracuse, NY) also had four three-pointers, finishing with 14 points. Olynyk (Kamloops, BC) and Jevohn Shepherd (Toronto, ON) each added 13 in Thursday's loss.
            Both teams came out firing to start the game, as Panama stormed out to a 6-2 lead early in the game. However, Carl English found his touch en route to 15 points in the first quarter, including three three-pointers, which gave Canada a narrow 27-24 lead after the first ten minutes of play.

            In the second quarter, Panama began to close the gap early in the period thanks to a three-pointer by Gary Forbes. Canada quickly regained the lead with an alley-oop by Jevohn Shepherd, which was set up by Andy Rautins. Both teams exchanged points the rest of the quarter, with Panama taking a one point lead into halftime.

            The seesaw battle continued into the second half, as neither team would allow the other to take more than a four point lead in the third quarter. The two battled back and forth to end the frame tied at 70. Olynyk and English carried the offense, scoring 14 of the team's 22 points in the quarter, highlighted by a three-point-play dunk by Olynyk.

            Into the fourth quarter, both teams continued to exchange baskets, with Panama taking a five point lead at the 5:41 mark. As Canada began to mount their comeback, Forbes continued to be a force offensively, denying Canada to take the lead. Another three-pointer by Forbes with 16 seconds remaining in the game regained a five point lead for Panama, who held on for the eventual win.

            Olynyk, who started the last four games in the tournament, averaged 6.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, shot 38.3 percent from the field on 18-of-47 and made 16-of-19 free throws for 84.2 percent. He had tournament highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds against Argentina, with the 13 points against Panama his only other double-digit game.


 

 

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